FACTS & STATS: Site: FAU Stadium (30,000) -- Boca Raton, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: Troy 1-3, FAU 1-2. Away Record: Troy 3-0, FAU 0-5. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, FAU 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 3-2, FAU 0-4. Series Record: Troy leads, 8-1.
GAME NOTES: Two teams coming off close games last weekend will square off when the Troy Trojans pay a visit to FAU Stadium to battle the Florida Atlantic Owls in a Sun Belt Conference matchup.
With 11 seconds remaining Will Scott nailed a 42-yard field goal that lifted the Trojans to a 38-37 home win over FIU. The field goal finished off a 16- point comeback by the Trojans in the second half, as Troy trailed 37-21 until late in the third quarter. The win was the third in four games for Troy and surprisingly the first win at home for the team. Troy is a perfect 3-0 on the road this season and enters play with a 3-2 mark against fellow Sun Belt squads.
The result of FAU's matchup with South Alabama did not have the same type of positive ending, as the Owls fell 37-34 in double overtime. In fact, FAU surrendered a 31-17 lead that it held until a little less than six minutes in regulation. Then in overtime, after both teams traded field goals, the Owls had their third field goal of the game blocked to send FAU to its sixth straight loss. In the last two seasons, FAU is just 2-17 combined with just a single win against FBS competition and none against a Sun Belt team.
As FAU's recent history might indicate Troy has dominated the all-time series between these two teams with wins in eight of the nine previous meetings, including four straight. Last season Troy hung a 34-7 loss on the Owls behind a 101-yard rushing effort from Alfred Morris.
Troy has had no problem moving down the field this season with its spread attack. Entering this game the Trojans are the second most productive offense in the Sun Belt in total yards per game (470.9 ppg). That output is dominated by the Trojans' conference-leading passing attack (303.1 ypg) which is also 19th nationally. However the big offensive numbers have not equated to as much scoring, with the Trojans ranked sixth in the Sun Belt in the category (28.0 ppg).
The Trojans were without starting quarterback Corey Robinson against FIU over the weekend after Robinson suffered a concussion in the previous game against Western Kentucky. In his place Deon Anthony threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 70.7 percent of his passes. Robinson was back on the practice field on Sunday and may be able to go in this game. Robinson has completed a high rate of his passes (65.6 percent) this season for 1,595 yards but has as many touchdowns as interceptions with seven.
After racking up more than 130 yards in two of his first three games, running back Shawn Southward has not gotten to the century mark in four straight games. Southward has rushed for a team-high 624 yards and five touchdowns this season and if Anthony (who had 115 yards rushing against FIU) does not get the start, he should see more carries.
Chip Reeves is the primary pass-catching threat with team-highs in receptions (37), yards (572) and 100-yard games (three). Reeves should benefit from the return of Robinson, as he had a season-low 34 yards against FIU. Eric Thomas (35 catches, 359 yards, 4 TDs) and Chandler Worthy (28 catches, 343 yards) are also solid receivers.
On defense Troy is giving up just under 400 yards of offense a game (396.3 ypg) which is due in part to the pace at which its offense moves the ball. The Trojans have been relatively decent at limiting scoring though, surrendering 25.9 points per game which is fourth in the Sun Belt.
Brynden Trawick (49 tackles, 3.5 for loss) and Kanorris Davis (48, 3.0) are neck and neck for the team lead in tackles. Tony Davis (6.5 tackles for loss) and Tyler Roberts (5.0 tackles for loss) are the best pass rushers on a team that ranks second to last in the Sun Belt in tackles for loss this season (33).
FAU has been a terrible offensive team this season. The Owls are last in the Sun Belt in a number of offensive categories, including total yards (311.4 pg), scoring (16.1 pg), rushing (119.1 ypg) and red zone conversion rate (66.7 percent).
Graham Wilbert has led the team under center and has been effective despite the offense's shortcomings. Wilbert has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,309 yards and eight touchdowns to just three interceptions. Wilbert threw for 303 yards and two scores in the loss to South Alabama to be come the first FAU quarterback to throw for 300 yards since 2010.
Jonathan Wallace and Damian Fortner have been the primary ball carriers for the weak rushing game. Wallace has rushed for 295 yards, while Fortner has 255 with each having exactly 72 carries. Wallace is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season against South Alabama.
William Dukes has been the team's most productive receiver in terms of receptions (28) and yards (439) and is normally the first option for Wilbert. Daniel McKinney has racked up a good number of receptions (23) but has averaged only 8.7 yards per reception. Byron Hankerson (17 receptions, 244 yards, 2 TDs) is the more explosive second option.
FAU is just slightly more effective defensively, ranking seventh in total defense (417.6 ypg) and second to last in scoring (31.7 ppg). Like Troy, FAU has a rather weak pass rush with the fewest sacks in the Sun Belt (eight) and the third fewest tackles for loss (34).
With the defense giving up so many yards, the Owls have had plenty of opportunities to generate tackles, which David Hinds (61) and Brent Harstad (56) have taken full advantage of. Hinds, who is sixth in the Sun Belt in tackles, also leads the team in tackles for loss with five.
It was a devastating loss last weekend for an FAU team that has had trouble finding any bright spots the last few seasons. The Owls will more than likely have to wait another week to get in the win column with Troy's potent offense coming to town.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 37, Florida Atlantic 7Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 27, 5:00 p.m. (et)